Date of Conferral







Robert E. Levasseur


The problem was that in 2016 the U.S. graduation rate of undergraduate students in for-profit higher learning institutions was only 23%, compared to 59% for public institutions and 66% for private nonprofit institutions. The purpose of this comparative case study was to explore for-profit and nonprofit college deansʼ perceptions of their leadership styles and how their leadership style affects graduation rates. Thus, the focus of the research question was determining college deansʼ perceptions of their leadership style and how their leadership style affects graduation rates. The basis of the conceptual framework was the full range leadership model. The sample required to achieve data saturation consisted of nine deans from for-profit private higher learning schools and nine deans from nonprofit private higher learning schools. Data analysis consisted of coding and thematic analysis of data collected from one-on-one interviews with the deans, using the constant comparative method to arrive at the themes for each group. Comparing these themes provided insights into similarities and differences between the two groups. The study findings suggested a high degree of similarity between the leadership styles of deans from for-profit schools and deans from nonprofit schools as well as how the deans from for-profit and nonprofit schools perceive their leadership style affects graduation rates. Specifically, the study results provided insights into how and why a transformational leadership style is perceived to affect graduation rates. Based on this finding, educational institutions could create leadership training programs to help deans lead in ways that improve undergraduate graduation rates, thus benefiting universities, students, future employers, and the public.